Formed in early spring of 1998, The Court and Spark came together over mutual respect for a sweet, wistful tune, along a road at dusk, and a good glass of whiskey, neat. The group, comprised of Scott Hirsch (guitar and organ), Joseph Rogers (bass guitar), James Kim (drums and percussion), and M.C. Taylor (guitar and vocals), and with the help from honorary members Wendy Allen (harmony) and Tom Heyman (pedal-steel guitar), weaves dark, back-road twang with ethereal, shimmering bands of space in such a way as to fuse the drunken sorrow of great Texas Troubadour Ernest Tubb with the star cluster known as Orion's Belt. Their debut album Ventura Whites conjures up sepia-toned portraits of morphine doctors and repentant lovers, ruined politicos and ladies preserved in amber, late nite benders and Sunday morning church pews. The record is a low-light, gospel-tinged wash of slide and pedal steel guitars, heartbeat drumming, churning Hammond B-3 and Fender bass, even some out-of-tune piano, which sounds decidedly appropriate. Live, The Court and Spark moves effortlessly through tunes of love and despair, gladness and sadness. Where one of Hirsch's ringing guitar licks subsides, Heyman's pedal-steel may sidle up, or a drifting, spaced-out organ may fill the gap. Pay close attention to the impeccable rhythms of Rogers and Kim. And the four-part harmonies! Not surprisingly, the band has been filling local ballrooms and dancehalls for some time. The Court and Spark is a band comprised of lovers of music. What one listener may think is reminiscent of the The Byrds country years another may think sounds like Brian Eno or Townes Van Zandt. Ultimately, though, the band sounds like a sharp outfit whose influences are never worn on their sleeves. In their short time together, The Court and Spark have played with such luminaries as The Paula Frazer Band (formerly Tarnation), Neko Case and Her Boyfriends, and the legendary Souled American, with whom they are labelmates on San Francisco's own Tumult Records.